Magura MT-8 Disc Brake Review

May 16, 2011
by Richard Cunningham  
Magura's crown jewel, the MT-8 disc brake system, has been shrouded in secrecy for a number of years. Take a close look at the carbon fiber brake lever assembly and you may begin to understand why it took so long for it to hit the market. The lever is resin-impregnated carbon fiber weave and the perch/master cylinder is injection molded into its final shape. Voodoo science aside, the end product is a magnificently lightweight, 278 grams-gram-per-side hydraulic disc brake system that, in the Magura tradition, delivers smooth, powerful stops and runs friction free. MT-8 brakes are intended for XC/Trail and All-mountain use, cost $399 per wheel, and will be available in late summer of 2011.

Stunning design - and all carbon fiber beyond the hardware bits. Meet Magura's MT-8 brake lever.
Stunning design - and all carbon fiber beyond the hardware bits. Meet Magura's MT-8 brake lever.


Magura MT-8 Details

Master Cylinder Magic: Magura employs an injection-molding process which combines loose carbon fibers in a resin mixture to make the bar-clamp/master cylinder housing. The design of the mold is reported to align the fibers in the optimum direction as the resin/fiber mixture is forced into the cavity. Beyond a significant weight reduction, the entire perch/master cylinder unit pops from the mold ready to use. Visually, the MT-8 lever is dramatically different from its metal Marta counterpart. The radial cylinder and reservoir are packaged internally, so the MT-8 looks slimmer and lacks the Marta's anodized aluminum faceplate. Like all Magura brakes, the MT-8 system uses mineral oil. The bleed port is still easily accessible from the front of the perch to make for simple servicing, and a split handlebar clamp, along with a mirror-image design, means that the MT-8 levers can be flipped right-to-left for moto-style riders (a Magura first). The clamp is also injection-molded carbon, and is available in a direct-mount option for SRAM shifters.

Carbon Levers: MT-8 levers, like the Marta SL, are constructed using a resin-transfer process. Layers of precut carbon-fiber woven material are stacked into a mold and then injected with epoxy resin at high pressure which is then cured in place. The final product is ready to use, with a beautiful clear-coat-like finish. The wide, comfortable MT-8 levers are only adjustable for reach. There is no provision for engagement-point indexing.

Magura offers a direct-mount clamp for SRAM shifter pods that is also injection-molded carbon fiber.
Magura offers a direct-mount clamp for SRAM shifter pods that is also injection-molded carbon fiber.

Storm SL Rotors: Magura's lightest rotors are still a full, 2.4-millimeters thick stainless steel - which help them to resist warping at higher temperatures, and to take a beating without bending. The wavy-pattern of the Storm SL rotor's braking track helps to shed mud and water, while a large number of ventilation holes reduce weight. Storm SL rotors are available in 8, 7 and 6-inch diameters (203, 180, and 160-millimeters) and there is a special 5-inch (140-millimeter) rotor for the rear-brake only that Magura offers for XC racing. Storm SL rotors use the international-standard, six-bolt pattern. Claimed weights are 153, 122, 95 and 75 grams respectively.

MT-8 Caliper: Magura's latest caliper technology is a minimalist, forged-aluminum design that employs dual-arch stiffeners similar to its suspension forks. The two arches carry the clamping forces of the caliper, while allowing easy access to the top-loading brake pads. Stock brakes have Magura's organic friction compound pads which are held in place by magnets on the caliper pistons and a central safety retaining screw. Tabs on the brake pads make replacement a simple one-hand operation. Magura offers a harder-stopping, 6.1 semi-metallic "performance" pad and a long-wearing 6.2 "endurance" option for aftermarket customers. Banjo hydraulic fittings allow for precise alignment of the brake hose with the frame or fork. MT8 calipers are post-mount, and will fit oversized rotors or international-standard flange-type bosses with the usual adapters.

The extensive ventilation of the Storm SL 7-inch front rotor is a thing of beauty, as is the new caliper design.
The extensive ventilation of the Storm SL 7-inch front rotor is a thing of beauty, as is the new caliper design.



Magura MT-8 Disc Brake Riding Impression

We installed the Magura MT-8s on a Santa Cruz Blur LTc trailbike, outfitted with grabby Schwalbe Hans Damph tires so that we could work the Magura Brakes hard. The front rotor was a Storm SL 7-incher with a 6-inch disc in the rear. Conditions for the test were dry and dusty with a number of water crossings to ensure that the Maguras got a taste of grit before we passed judgment. Trails were varied with a few slickrock descents and one nice, steep-as-you-can-ride section to keep it all honest.

Break-in: We began with a series of firm braking efforts from about 20 miles an hour on pavement to mate the pads with the rotors. To prevent squealing, a "break-in" session should be done with any new system, or when new pads are installed, to ensure that the pad material is evenly deposited on the rotor surface. A half-dozen stops were all that was needed to bring the MT-8s into their full stopping potential.

Ergonomics: Spend some time getting the lever reach right, because the MT-8 requires a Torx key to adjust the lever angle. Once set, the feel at the lever of the MT-8s is comfortable, firm at the engagement point and minimal finger pressure is required to make strong speed corrections. Magura was one of the first brake makers to offer a wider blade. The MT-8 blade is shaped differently, but it feels like a close, but not exact replica of the Marta SL version - which is saying that it fits one or two fingers easily and doesn't tire the hands on extended descents.

To describe Magura's double-arch caliper design as
To describe Magura's double-arch caliper design as "minimalist" would be an understatement.
Top-loading brake pads allow users to replace pads without removing the wheel. The banjo hose fitting can be angled to suit individual applications.
Top-loading brake pads allow users to replace pads without removing the wheel. The banjo hose fitting can be angled to suit individual applications.

Performance: Power and modulation are the golden rule of braking, and the MT-8s stop with more authority than the Martas they supersede, and stop on par with anything Shimano or SRAM has in the XC/AM category. There is a solid feel as the pad contacts the rotor and that translates to positive communication between the lever-grip and the ground. The MT-8's firm modulation pays dividends when a wheel locks, because only a slight release pressure will get it rolling again. A mushier feeling lever would have to be released almost completely to get the wheel rolling - which can seem like forever at the wrong moment. Wet or dry, the MT-8 brake seemed to stop with equal authority, and our set never peeped or squealed after the break-in interval. Best of all, the rotors spun clear of the calipers--and still run drag fee.



And the downsides?
The carbon lever perch and clamp can slip on the handlebar and once it gets moving, it goes a long way. Those who set their lever with a little less clamping tension to protect the levers in event of a crash might want to tighten them a bit more than normal. Worth mentioning, is that Magura's Storm SL rotors (and other brands with similar ventilation) emanate a soft buzzing sound while braking. If you like complete silence from your brakes, MT-8s are probably not for you. Finally, we never yard-saled the bike during the MT-8 test, so we can't presume how the new carbon/carbon brake levers are going to hold up under severe punishment. That question will be answered soon, however, because we don't plan on taking them off for the foreseeable future.

Pinkbike Weighs In On MT-8 Brakes
Performance minded riders with a ready source of cash will find Magura's latest braking system hard to pass up. The MT-8 delivers the goods in all the right departments: modulation, stopping power, ergonomics, great looks, and Magura gets it all done with a brake that is lightweight enough to make a fastidious XC racer cry like a baby.


Keep an eye out for the release of Magura's MT-8 brakes and while you're at it; give us your comments about injection-molded carbon levers.


43 Comments

  • + 18
 Running teflon tape under the clamps allows a wider 'moves-in-the-event-of-crash' margin of error. You can crank them up and they will still rotate around the bars if hit during a stack. Worked beautifully on my Hayes Carbon Nines. I use the 0.1mm gasfitter's tape as it is easier to work with than the really thin white stuff the goes all stringy when you try to cut it.
  • + 10
 From a caption in the article:

"Top-loading brake pads allow users to replace pads without removing the wheel."

Right. Just need to bend your rotor to reset the pistons.
  • + 1
 Good point man , I have never considered that before.
  • + 1
 lol good call.
  • + 4
 I dont even know why they put the "intended use" on brakes anymore, all they should put is weight. If its light, it will inevitably end up on DH bikes. That set aside, it looks awesome
  • + 3
 depends on how much you weigth... i'm 180lbs + rider and lots of light weight brake that are set up on stock Dh bike are not enough powerfull and will not eleminate heat as much as dh build for brake like code or saint... but for ligth riders yes, it's a good solution
  • + 1
 I think you can run any caliper you want for DH (including these), but only a big rotor with lots of meat on it is suitable for DH. The bigger and 'massive' the rotor is, the better it converts kinetic energy to heat energy.
  • + 2
 Some brakes (caliper and rotors) are more suited towards downhill and move heavy use disciplines. Generally with hydraulic disc brakes heat is your enemy, too much heat in the caliper and the brake fluid will thin out and cause your brakes to fade, as well as potentially warping your rotor. A larger rotor offers more power because of the radius of the rotor being larger. They also will get less heat build up as there is more material to dissipate the heat. But they weigh more and are kind of overkill for the average person so for most of us am brakes work fine on a more dh oriented bike.
  • + 1
 Agreed.

Average person? Neither of us is an average rider, and neither is anyone else. Smile
  • + 3
 You can find a vid here: www.youtube.com/user/HansiHinternseher#p/u/6/nQvUrV-rI3I in my channel. I was one of the first test riders, we mounted them on my yeti 303 and they did fine!!
cheers
chris
  • + 1
 Funny how the R1 (with carbon lever blade, ti hardware, and 2-piece aluminum/steel rotor) is still lighter than the MT8. I would love to see a side-by-side comparison test between the fully decked out R1 and the MT8. I could probably talk to my buddy at The Hive if you guys needed a hookup for such a thing.
  • + 1
 it seems like from what magura was saying that they invested a crazy amount in making this the perfect all-arounder...which doesnt really seem to be reflected in this review. Do you think they may have missed their goals or something else?
  • + 1
 Don't get magura. The product may be brilliant but their customer care is well below par. I havr the magura louise carbon. This cost me 150 pounds. And i am on the second problem already. The mount on the calliper has snapped when riding on a flat road. They say its not covered on warrenty because ..... Well they havnt told me. Absolut
Balderdash Frown
  • + 1
 Exact same issue only with the normal louise. the supplier (orange i think) in canada told me to call magura, magura told me to call the suplier in canada, in the end shitty customer service and no rear brake for me. this was on my 2nd ride on these brakes
  • + 2
 I've never had a problem with my Louise's...
  • + 1
 I've always had excellent customer service from Magura in the UK.
  • + 1
 I snapped a brake calliper. Virtually impossible unless you hit it with a hammer and so on, ridi g a flat road. Crack. Why cant they accept there was something wrong and replace it under the warranty that shines on their products. And everyone loves americansWink if you upset them, they might invade you or somethingWink have a sense of hummer Wink
  • + 1
 to sfd656 : when you have warranty issue you should go to your local bike shop they will have better chance to resolve the problem...
  • + 1
 bought them when i was in austria
  • + 1
 Magura promote a five year warranty. But they actually have a two year warranty but carpet it under the false five year. This is misleading and also illeagal.
  • + 2
 @elzyboy:
No.
The 2 years you state are required by european consumer laws.
Magura adds a 5 year warranty against leaks.

So if your Maguras are leaking because Magura screwed up, your brakes will be replaced.
If you kill your brakes through a crash, it's your fault and noone will replace your brakes.
Pretty simple, eh?
  • + 1
 Yeah i know about the leak warranty, but when you ride on a FLAT ROAD and pull the brakes you expect them to work, not the calliper snapping at the bolt mount. I could of easily hit a car, seeing as i was nearing a busy junction. Pretty simple, eh?
  • + 1
 a caliper can snap at the bolt mount from the bolt being over-torqued too...
  • + 1
 Yeah, but that would have snapped then not 3 weeks in the future.
  • + 1
 Likely yeah, did they give you any reason as to why it could've happened..?
  • + 1
 They are giving me all the bull shit under the sun.
  • + 1
 It does look good, but that's a lot of money for something geared towards XC/AM...
The part at the end where it says "If you like complete silence from your brakes, MT-8s are probably not for you" is pretty funny...
it's more like "if you like complete silence from your brakes, then no MTB brakes are for you"...
  • + 2
 THAT is one sexy looking brake. Cannot wait to here some reviews from pros.
  • + 1
 they look great. but people have been fucked over with the warranty before. they claim that their brakes are the best in the world and they couldn't possibly be their fault.
  • + 1
 Pretty schmick looking. Long term will be interesting, as always, to see pan out. I'd like to see their DH application too. Don't forget a lot of us are weight weenies too Razz
  • + 1
 Who first invented this design? Formula or a Magura? One is an almost exact copy of another.

But the execution is, of course, at altitude.
  • + 1
 i dont think anyone should care who copied who because so far hayes, magura, and formula are doing this design. i think its because the straight piston design in the lever is more effective?
  • + 2
 Shimano failed at this design, as I am told... they are already changing to "classic" master cylinder design like Avid
  • + 2
 Cool material concept but I think I'll keep my Formula R1's.
  • + 2
 I wants te shiny shinySmile
  • + 1
 Nice, beefy looking brakes Smile
  • + 1
 they look good and the low weight is nice BUT for that amount of money they SHOULD come with engagement point adjustment! Years in the making and they left THAT out, I won't buy them just cause of that!
  • + 15
 They left this one out to save even more weight. On the MT4 which you will find a little down the priceladder of Magura you will have this knob.
And you should ask yourself if your really need it. You set your custom reach once, which is still possible, and you should be fine. Over the last couple of years we all get sold bikeproducts which have more and more knobs and dials on it – of course for a higher price. I think a lot of people are even overstrained with a reach adjust. This is my experience (even with people running insanely expensive stuff on their bikes).

A knob more isn't always good if you want a no problem bike.
In the last couple of years, also this is just my experience, myself and the guys at our local bikeshop have much less problems with the lower range of Avid Brakes which haven't the padcontact adjustment. Also a Fox Float isn't as prone for cavitation as a RP23 because of it's simpler construction. If you have a knob of adjustment, there is a possibility for it to fail. Just keep this in mind.
  • + 1
 Are the brake pads used in Louise or Marta the same as used on MT-8??
  • + 1
 hm... I must say I rode with no good reach adjustment brakes and with no pad contact for some time, and after i switched, first to XTs (crap not worth the money) then to Saints, I started a new braking life. Honestly on pre 2011 Shimano pad contact adjustment does next to nothing yes. I can't imagine living without being able to adjust these anyways... but yes, you set it once and forget and fancy no-tools dials are useless, allen key adjustment is enough. Unfortunately lately there is more and more torq bolts on bike components - I think they should shoot in bollocks for using that!
  • + 4
 Torx is a good thing. They last a lot longer than allen versions. Here on the MT8 they completely use the T25 which is the same size like your discbolts (only for bleeding you need a standard allen key). A T25 is available on each minitool so this shouldnt't be a problem like the T15 on the formulaclamp.

@ leelau
No Marta and Louise didn't used topload so this is a new brakepad.
  • + 1
 thx grinsekater. I suspected as much. Too bad, I have different year versions of Louise, Marta and keep having to change brake pads between systems. A bit of a pain
  • + 2
 I agree that once you've dialed in the contact point and the reach adjustment you are unlikely to change it. I like having the option because stock levers seldom come with the perfect setup from the start. I also agree with you that simple is better in many cases and it is one of the reasons I won't be getting a Cane Creek DB anytime soon because I just don't need all that adjustment! However, brakes are something very specific and something I'm very picky with, I come from a trials background so lever position and feel is super important and riding alpine DH you notice the difference between brakes, brake levers, etc easily!

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